The Daily Telegraph reports in a front-page splash today that Scottish National Party leader, Alex Salmond, has twice gone to Scotland's highest civil court to prevent it publishing “secret details of his local income tax plan”.
In the story, by Scottish political editor, Simon Johnson, the broadsheet claims Salmond tried to use the Court of Session to prevent The Daily Telegraph from disclosing the details of his proposals for the tax, which he says would replace council tax.
Writes Johnson: “The Daily Telegraph can today report details of a two–year battle by SNP ministers to prevent the publication of an official document discussing the implications of the levy for taxpayers.
“When The Daily Telegraph asked, under Freedom of Information legislation, for details of the financial implications of the new tax, SNP ministers applied to the Court of Session to block the release of the papers.
“However, following a lengthy legal fight the ministerial objection was dropped and Kevin Dunion, Scotland's information commissioner, was given access to all the papers and last month he ordered that the document be released to this newspaper.
“He ruled that it would ‘contribute significantly to public understanding’ of the policy and its ‘viability’ to raise enough money to fund council services since the onset of the recession.
“But Mr Salmond has now lodged another appeal in Scotland's highest civil court. This legal move means the document will not now be released until well after May's election. This is politically significant as the First Minister intends to include the local income tax plan in his election manifesto, arguing that it is a fairer alternative to council tax.”